Bucknell Magazine features Craft Brew Alumni

‘Ray Bucknell!

You may have seen my post recently in which I talked about an exciting project…well here it is:
As a Bucknell alumnus, I was thrilled to work with the team at Bucknell Magazine to put together a highlight piece on the number of Bucknell alumni in the craft beer scene.  I truly enjoyed interviewing the “Bucknell brewers” to find out how they came to the industry after they left Bucknell.
Enjoy the read, and ‘Ray Bucknell!
Cheers!
The Brewholder
Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

Iron Hill Brewery – North Wales releasing “Backdraft Lager” to support Horsham Fire Company

Backdraft Lager from Iron Hill North Wales. Photo courtesy Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant.

One of my favorite local breweries, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in North Wales, has brewed a beer to support neighboring township’s Horsham Fire Company.  The beer will be released during a special event on July 26 – more details from Iron Hill:

On Thursday, July 26 beginning at 5 p.m., Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant will celebrate the annual release of Backdraft Lager by donating $1 from every pint sold to the Horsham Fire Company. This special beer, brewed with members of the Fire Company, is a Munich-style pale lager with malty sweetness balanced by subtle, spicy hop notes on the nose and a dry, clean finish.

So come out, drink some rock solid brew, and support the fire company!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

 

Mother of Dragons coming from Brewery Ommegang in September

Mother of Dragons!!  Photo courtesy Brewery Ommegang.

Continuing with its Game of Thrones inspired beers, Brewery Ommegang and HBO will release the third beer in the Royal Reserve Collection on September 28 – “Mother of Dragons”.   Read the press release issued on July 16, 2018:

Brewery Ommegang and HBO® announce Mother of Dragons, third beer in Game of Thrones®-inspired Royal Reserve Collection

 

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) Brewery Ommegang and HBO Licensing & Retail have announced the newest beer in their collaborative series inspired by the award-winning drama Game of Thrones! Mother of Dragons, a beer brewed for Daenerys Targaryen, is the third beer in this year’s Royal Reserve Collection, a series of four limited release beers, each designed and brewed as an homage to one of four epic figures engaged in the battle for the Seven Kingdoms.

 

Brewed and blended for a leader who takes what is hers with fire and blood, Mother of Dragons is a blend of a smoked porter and a Belgian kriek, representing the smoke and fire that Daenerys has unleashed on her opponents. The beer will be available throughout Ommegang’s distribution network on September 28 both on draft and in 750ml bottles and the suggested retail price for a bottle is $12.99.

 

“Mother of Dragons represents in beer one of our favorite characters from Game of Thrones.  Daenerys’s ascent from obscurity has been one of the most inspiring storylines of the show, and we’re thrilled to release a blend that embodies the character traits that have underpinned that rise,” said Doug Campbell, Brewery Ommegang president.

 

Mother of Dragons pours a deep ruby-tinted mahogany with a creamy tan head. Aromas of chocolate covered cherries intertwine with subtle smoke and roasted malt. The flavor is rich with tart cherry up front leading to a center palate of semi-sweet chocolate then resolving to subtle smoke and mild sweetness. The mouthfeel is luxuriously creamy and full, and the finish is semi-dry with lingering notes of smoke and cherry sweetness. Mother of Dragons is 6.5% ABV and pairs well with smoked gouda and charcuterie, braised meats, and rich desserts like flourless chocolate cake and cherry cheese cake.

 

The Royal Reserve Collection features four brand new beers in the brewery’s Game of Thrones-inspired series with HBO. All of the beers will be available on draft and in 750ml bottles. The series began in April with Hand of the Queen, a barleywine, and was followed in June by Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, a sour blonde blend. Following the release of Mother of Dragons, the final beer will be announced later this year.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

2018 Meeting of the Malts – August 23, 2018

The Brewers of Pennsylvania will host their “Meeting of the Malts” on August 23, 2018 at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  This is a fantastic event for homebrewers and craft beer fans!  Check out the press release below – and I hope to see you there!

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The Brewers of Pennsylvania has released its event details and list of panel participants for the 2018 Meeting of the Malts, the association’s popular annual event that gathers the most acclaimed breweries to discuss the state of the craft beer industry. The powerhouse panel includes Pennsylvania’s finest brewers including Bill Covaleski (Victory Brewing Company), Tom Kehoe (Yards Brewing Company), and Wendy Yuengling (D. G. Yuengling & Son).  New panelists include Mike Stevens of Michigan-based Founders Brewing Company and Joey Redner of Florida-based Cigar City Brewing….

Craft Beer Powerhouse Panel Headlines 2018 Meeting of the Malts  

Brewers of Pennsylvania Welcomes First-time Participants Founders and Cigar City

HARRISBURG, PA (6.20.18) – The Brewers of Pennsylvania (BOP), the state’s official brewers guild, has released its event details and list of panel participants for the 2018 Meeting of the Malts, the association’s popular annual event that gathers the most acclaimed breweries to discuss the state of the craft beer industry.

Presented by Gold Sponsor Micro Matic USA, Meeting of the Malts VII will take place Thursday, August 23 from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. EST at Artsquest Center at SteelStacks, and will feature a powerhouse panel including Bill Covaleski (Victory Brewing Company), Tom Kehoe (Yards Brewing Company), Wendy Yuengling (D. G. Yuengling & Son), Mike Stevens (Michigan-based Founders Brewing Company), and Joey Redner (Florida-based Cigar City Brewing). The panel discussion, which will run from 6-7 p.m., will be emceed by industry icon, Bump Williams. Dick Yuengling and Jim Koch (Samuel Adams) will provide the opening remarks.

“Craft beer is thriving in Pennsylvania, and Meeting of the Malts, now in its seventh year, continues to serve as the state’s primary meeting place to discuss the industry’s important successes and challenges from legislative issues to craft beer trends,” said Dan LaBert, Executive Director of the Brewers of Pennsylvania. “If you are a brewer or simply a fan of the craft beer scene, Meeting of the Malts is a must-attend event. We expect as strong a turnout as last year, which welcomed hundreds of attendees who listened to and learned from our industry’s most successful brewers, as well as promising peers who are in the trenches producing the very best craft beer in the United States.”

Draft Magazine has named Meeting of the Malts as the #12 (out of 101) rated beer experiences on the industry bucket list. While several panelists have participated in previous Meeting of the Malts, new to this year is Mike Stevens, Co-Founder and CEO of Founders and Joey Redner, Founder of Cigar City.

Founders has been ranked in the top breweries in the world by Ratebeer.com for the last five years. The brewery has won six World Beer Cup medals, four European Beer Star medals, and three Great American Beer Festival medals.

“Founders has been a part of the industry now for twenty-one years, and when I first got into the business breweries like Sam Adams and Yuengling inspired me to follow my passion,” said Stevens. “I’m truly honored to be a part of this event and share the stage with such accomplished brewers, and I look forward to a spirited conversation.”

Cigar City has won a Gold Medal for its Humidor Series IPA at the National Beer Championships and a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its Minaret ESB.

Following the panel discussion will be a four-course dinner from 7:15 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., each course being paired with a beer from select panelist’s breweries. During the meal, the BOP will host a Beer Silent Auction, an opportunity to bid on unique and collectible items from a variety of breweries including autographed, one-of-a-kind items from the country’s finest breweries.

After the dinner comes the Pennsylvania BrewPub Festival from 9:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.  Participating BOP members include: Barley Creek Brewing Co., Berwick Brewing Co., Boneshire Brew Works, Brewery at Hershey, Collusion Tap Works, Covered Bridge Brewhaus, Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, Hop Hill Brewing Co., Round Guys Brewing Co., Roy-Pitz Brewing Co., Saucony Creek Brewing Co., and Wolf Brewing Co.

For the second consecutive year, Meeting of the Malts will also include the Legislative Growler Awards, an honor that recognizes a person or organization the BOP considers a partner in the industry, one who continually strives to promote and protect Pennsylvania’s craft beer industry. Honorees will be announced at a later date.

Artsquest Center at SteelStacks is located at 711 First St., Bethlehem, PA.  Accommodations deadline for the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is August 9.

About the Brewers of Pennsylvania – The Brewers of Pennsylvania is a 501c6 trade association that brings together leaders of Pa.-based breweries in order to promote and protect the brewing industry in the state.  The Brewers of Pennsylvania, a strong and influential organization, serves the consuming public of Pa. by encouraging brand diversity in the market. BOP members employ an estimated 10,000 employees earning $296 million in wages and generating $1.1 billion in direct economic benefits to communities throughout the state.  Its signature annual event is the popular Meeting of the Malts. #supportPAbeer

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Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

Philly Beer Week 2018 Begins (with a whisper?)

 

Did you realize that today is the beginning of Philly Beer Week?   It is – and I’m looking forward to checking out Beer Under the Big Top at the Navy Yard tomorrow and other events throughout the next week.

While I’m as excited as always to try new beer and talk about it with other beer fans, I feel like I haven’t seen much buzz or news generated about this year’s PBW.   The HOG relay has been running through the city today, and Opening Tap is about to happen at the Fillmore…but I wouldn’t know that except for being on the Philly Beer Week email list.  In past years, I’ve seen a lot more collaborative media pushed out by breweries, so, to be honest, PBW 2018 kind of snuck up on me.

I’m trying not to read too much into it – but it does make me wonder…has the craft beer industry become complacent about reaching out to the general public?  Is it satisfied with the 12.7% overall market share in 2017, as reported by the Brewers Association? https://www.brewersassociation.org/statistics/national-beer-sales-production-data/  Has it given up on the battle cry of 20% by 2020?

Maybe the Philly Beer Week organization simply decided to try something new this year, or maybe I just missed “the buzz.”  Whatever the case, I’m heading into Philadelphia to celebrate beer in the City of Brotherly Love during Philly Beer Week 2018 – and I hope to see the same passion and excitement about beer from everyone there as I did five years ago!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

Brewholder News: May the 4th Be With You!

Happy Star Wars Day!  To celebrate I just ordered my tickets for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” so all is right with the world. But…

I’ve been lax on posting recently due to my immersion in a writing project – a project that I must say has been extremely invigorating for me.  It’s the most fun I’ve had on a project since one last year for Philly Beer Scene Magazine!  When the link goes hot on my newest project, I will certainly post it here.

Brew in the desert!

Blueprint Brewing in Kulpsville, PA – gluten free brew!

A delicious pumpkin porter at Pocono Brewery.

I’m also a slacker because I recently visited Tucson, AZ, and more locally, Blueprint Brewing in Kulpsville and Pocono Brewery Company, but I haven’t posted about them here yet…coming soon!  In the meantime, check me out on Instagram, Facebook and Untappd to see glimpses into those visits!

Now – for the news that’s important to me:

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant opened their 13th location in Greenville, South Carolina on May 1, 2018.  According to a press release, “The brewery and restaurant spans 7,500 sq. ft. and has a seating capacity of 250, which includes an on-site brewery, cocktail area, and an outdoor patio. The brewery, which is fully operational on-site, will produce between 800 to 900 barrels of their award-wining craft beer annually.”  I’ve been to Greenville before, and this gives me a great reason to visit again!   

Ommegang Double Barrel Dubbel – luxurious flavors.

I tried Ommegang’s Double Barrel Double last week – I think the best word for it is “luxurious” – Rich flavors of brown sugar and coffee mixed with the distinctive Ommegang house yeast.  If you are an Ommegang fan, you’ll really like this.  Great for sipping on a cool spring evening for sure!  

A growler of Tripel Chair straight from America’s winter playground! Cheers!

Magic Hat released their “Tripel Chair,” a new golden Belgian-style tripel.  It is only available in Vermont and was named after Sugarbush Ski Resort’s triple chairlift.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on a 32 oz growler of it – at 9.1% ABV, it packs a nice warmth and has the distinctive Belgian yeast esters.  If you like high gravity Belgian styles this might be worth a trip to Vermont to try!  

A new brewery named “Workhorse Brewing” is setting up shop in the Bridgeport / King of Prussia area.  https://www.workhorsebrewing.com I noticed them on Instagram the other day – looks like it is going to be a pretty massive production brewery.  According to the website, the Brewmaster is Nate Olewine, formerly of Victory Brewing Company and most recently of Devil’s Backbone Brewing in Virginia.  The plan is to open in “Spring 2018.”  Stay tuned!

BrewDog USA products are now available in Southeast Philadelphia.  The Columbus, OH-based branch of the brewery was opened in 2017 and is the brainchild of the pair from the well-known BrewDogs television show that aired from 2013 – 2015.  

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

Ommegang releases Double Barrel Dubbel

Double Barrel Dubbel, photo courtesy Brewery Ommegang.

Cooperstown, NY-based Brewery Ommegang announced on April 11 its release of “Double Barrel Dubbel” a bourbon barrel aged Belgian Dubbel.  Here’s the press release:

Bourbon and brandy flavors shine in Ommegang’s new Double Barrel Dubbel blend 

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) Brewery Ommegang is pleased to announce the release of a new beer this month: Double Barrel Dubbel, a beautiful blend of traditional Belgian-style dubbel aged in bourbon and brandy casks.

A nod to Ommegang’s first beer, a beloved dubbel called Ommegang Abbey Ale, Double Barrel Dubbel is a glorious new take on the style. This luxurious brew begins with Abbey Ale, which then gracefully ages for six months in a mix of bourbon and brandy casks in the brewery’s cellar. This blend of barrels adds an additional layer of complexity to an already flavorful beer.

“As we’ve expanded our barrel-aging program, we’ve experimented with some of our favorite core beers, trying different barrels, and combinations of barrels, to create something new with beers we already enjoy,” said Phil Leinhart, Ommegang’s brewmaster. “We thought the combination of bourbon and brandy for Abbey Ale was a great one and we’re pleased to share Double Barrel Dubbelwith fans.”

Brewed with pils, amber, Munich, and aroma malts and hopped with Syrian Golding and Spalter Select, Double Barrel Dubbel enjoys a similar spicing to Abbey Ale with orange peel, coriander, cumin, star anise, and licorice root. It pours a deep burgundy color with a creamy tan head. Robust aromas of coconut, vanilla, molasses, burnt sugar, and dark stone fruit greet the drinker up front, with more subtle hints of vanilla and bourbon following in their wake. Flavor of caramel, raisin, and plums mix nicely with underlying flavors of oak, bourbon, and subtle hints of dried fruit and vanilla. A wonderfully full mouthfeel pairs with a lingering sweetness on the finish resulting in a decadent drinking experience.

This big, rich beer with an ABV of 9.9% pairs well with bold flavors like beef carbonade over mashed potatoes, robust cheeses like sharp cheddar and bleu cheese, and for dessert, a brandy-soaked fruitcake. Double Barrel Dubbel will be available for a limited time in 12 oz four-packs and on draft beginning in late April.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

The Brewholder News: Digging out!

Time to dig out and drink up!  PS – on a recommendation from a trusted source, I tried the 10 Barrel Pub Ale.  I wasn’t impressed, but it’s drinkable.  

Hey everyone!   It’s been a some time since I’ve posted here, but between celebrating a Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl win and digging out from multiple snow storms, let’s just say I’ve been drinking more beer than writing about it!  (See my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Untappd activity as proof!)

There’s been some really cool stuff that’s come across my barrel recently – so let’s dig out:

The Bruery – or more specifically – Bruery Terreux – is releasing a foeder aged beer that sounds amazing – Saison Ardennes.  I’m expecting to try it soon – here’s the description I received:

A new, authentic, oak foeder-aged, Belgian-style farmhouse ale that just got released from Bruery Terreux – a brand from The Bruery in Orange County, CA that exclusively focuses on and explores the sour and wild side of beer.

At Bruery Terreux, we channel nature for inspiration and participation in crafting both traditional and new takes on farmhouse-style ales, including Belgian-style saisons, tart wheat beers and oak-aged fruited sours.

This new release, Saison Ardennes, is no exception. Saison Ardennes is a tart saison, hand-crafted to embody the dependable, spirited nature of a classic Belgian-style farmhouse ale. This includes a crisp malt profile, rustic floral and spice notes, and lively carbonation. Our rendition expresses further depth and character from a six-month fermentation and maturation in one of our newest 103BBL large oak foeders previously used for wine in Santa Rosa, California. It’s a bottle of beer that will pleasantly evolve over time, thanks to the presence of wild yeast added for bottle conditioning.

The beer will be available in 375-ml. bottles and on tap in nearly 30 states throughout the country, starting this month – here’s how to find bottles where our beer is distributed. Bottles are also available on TheBrueryStore.com (shipping within CA only) and will soon be on the shelves at The Bruery Store at Union Market in Washington, D.C.

 

The Bruery’s Saison Ardennes, photo courtesy The Bruery

Did you know Forest & Main in Ambler opened their new space?  Swing in and check it out!

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant announced that they will be opening a new location in Hershey, Pennsylvania in late 2018/early 2019.  A press release explained that the 9,000 sf facility “will house an on-site brewing facility and seating for up to 290 including a bar area and additional outdoor space.”  The release also suggested that Iron Hill Hershey “will join in the amusements, world-class golf courses, museums, and outlet shopping at one of Pennsylvania’s most popular tourist destinations.”  For those of us who love beer tourism, Iron Hill Hershey will be a great addition to a the list of outstanding breweries in the area, including Troegs and Boneshire Brew Works.  And of course, those of us in the Philly area are anxiously awaiting the opening of Iron Hill’s Center City Philadelphia location, which, we were last told, should happen this Spring!

Magic Hat’s “Barroom Hero” is a strong recommendation for St. Patty’s Day.

Did you hear that Vermont-based Magic Hat Brewing released a collaboration pub style ale with The Dropkick Murphys?  Unlike many craft nerds, I truly enjoy a traditional pub ale – and when listening to the Dropkick Murphys, Magic Hat’s “Barroom Hero” is outstanding. The Brewholder’s recommendation:  If you can find it, I’d strongly recommend holding some for St. Patty’s Day!

Magic Hat is also re-releasing their “Elder Betty,” an elderberry enhanced Weissbeer.  Keep an eye on my social media channels for my thoughts on it soon!

Summer Love is back, with a new look. Photo courtesy Victory Brewing Company

To help us get through our most recent snow storm, Victory Brewing Company is counting down the days to summer!   And today they announced the return of Summer Love Ale, with a new look.  It won’t be long until you start getting bombarded with pictures of cans from The Brewholder Pool!

Prima Pils by the Pool, 2016!

Cooperstown, NY-based Ommegang Brewery recently released two beers of note:  Candi Stout “fuses rich roasted malts with Belgian candi sugar, bittersweet cocoa nibs, and a special strain of Belgian ale yeast. The result is a delightfully drinkable blend of a Belgian-style dark ale and a traditional stout.”  If you didn’t try this on Valentine’s Day, maybe replace a few chocolate eggs with it on Easter!

Their newest Game of Thrones inspired beer, in a new series – The Royal Reserve Collection – The Hand of the Queen, is a barleywine ale that will be available in the beginning of April.  If you happen to live in the Cooperstown area, or are able to make the trek to the brewery, it will be for sale at the brewery store on Saturday, March 17, 2018.  But remember – the brewery is currently closed for tours due to renovations.

Ommegang’s “Hand of the Queen” Barleywine, coming soon. Photo courtesy of Brewery Ommegang.

Tons of stuff happening in the craft beer world – if you are looking at it from the business sense, it makes one wonder if the we’re turning a corner.  One announcement that really struck me was the fact that New Hampshire-based Smuttynose Brewing is up for auction!  Believe it or not, there was a time when The Brewholder could/would not drink anything hoppier than a Yuengling Lord Chesterfield Ale.  But one day in the early 2000’s, standing in warm sunlight at an outdoor picnic in the month of May, someone handed me a Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA, and it was an awakening.  I’ll never forget that moment of confusion, delight, and sudden understanding that a doorway to a whole new style of beer had just been opened to me. I believe it is that rush of excitement that has been the power behind the craft beer movement (or at least it is for me).  So when I heard that Smuttynose might undergo some significant changes, I felt a little something, right there in the chest.

But no need to cry!  There are still many new beers being created every day, and there are tons of cities/states/countries that are modernizing their beer laws (think you had it bad in Pennsylvania?  Indiana just passed a law allowing for Sunday beer sales!)  So keep on trying new brews, especially local brews!

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

Against All Hops – A Distinctively Refreshing Brew Recipe Book

Against All Hops by Butch Heilshorn

In the midst of the electronic onslaught of blog posts, tweets, and visual inundation of digital photos on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, every once in a while it is refreshing to just sit and read a physical book while enjoying a well-crafted beer. My most recent foray into physical media was “Against All Hops – Techniques and Philosophy for Creating Extraordinary Botanical Beers,” by Butch Heilshorn, the co-founder of Earth Eagle Brewings located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Against All Hops at its core is a recipe book for some of the brews that Butch and his team have created at their brewery. At the outset, be warned – the recipes are for advanced brewers and the book does not get into introductory methods of brewing, cleaning, or sanitization. The book is a fantastic read because, if you are not familiar with Earth Eagle Brewings, their brews use more than just hops in their beers. Butch has embraced the use of locally foraged herbs and plants in his beer, with the help and knowledge of his herbalist wife April.

While the book contains recipes for their interpretation of standard styles (IPA, Stout, Pale Ale), generally Earth Eagle Brewings beer can be described as “gruit,” an ancient ale that did not use hops as the bittering agent. Instead, all manner of herbs, flowers, and other plant matter are used to create new and interesting tastes. Each recipe is prefaced with a enlightening discussion on the history, tastes, and medicinal qualities of the herbs used in the brew. Along with high-quality photographs of the plants, it makes for an extremely enjoyable read.

In addition to the recipes, Butch explains his philosophy on brewing, which is most definitely on the artistic side of the brewing spectrum (as compared to the technical, scientific side where large, industrial breweries necessarily reside). His concept of humanity’s connection to Earth is well presented, without being judgmental or overbearing, and is clearly reflected in the recipes for his beer.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Against All Hops, especially in the cold of December and January when thoughts of foraging for locally harvested herbs and plants seem to warm you from the inside. While the book is meant for brewers, anyone who has an appreciation for creative and well-crafted beer would probably enjoy reading the narratives between the recipes. As a home brewer, after reading Against All Hops, I am truly looking forward to trying my hand at a gruit with some home grown herbs this Spring – and maybe a trip to New Hampshire this year to try these recipes for myself!

Against All Hops is available on Amazon in paperback for $12.91 and on Kindle for $9.99.

Cheers!

The Brewholder

Copyright 2018 – all rights reserved

Seattle’s Fantastic Beer Scene

Pike Place Market

 

[This is a recap of my trip to Seattle last March. Anyone who has been following my posts probably realizes that I’ve written less in 2017. So this is a little dated; but I wanted to get it posted because I’m going back to Seattle soon and this piece would’ve been harder to post after the second trip! Anyway – enjoy!]

Any time I get the opportunity to travel, I try to experience as much of the local beer scene as possible. Earlier this year I had a long weekend in the Seattle-Tacoma area that was pretty amazing, both in the number of breweries I visited and in the quality of beer I tasted.

Part of what made this trip so special was that I had two local tour guides that took me to places that I would’ve normally just said “nope, that’s too far away from my hotel” or “I haven’t seen much about that on social media.” So special thanks to my friends – my mythical companion #jimantush, and Bri, who showed me more about the Seattle – Tacoma region breweries than I would have discovered on my own!

The Yard House – downtown Seattle

After knocking the dust off from the cross country trip with a sample flight of local brew at the Yard House in downtown Seattle, we drove about 45 minutes south and east to get to the small town of Buckley, Washington. I should note that during that drive, I was super stoked to see the imposing, snowcapped mountains on the eastern horizon and signs that said “Yakima – 123 miles.”

Yakima!

The reason for the trip to Buckley was a visit to the local brewery, Elk Head Brewing. I had tried a well-traveled crowler of their beer earlier in the year (brought to Ft. Lauderdale by Bri, then brought to Philly by me, and sampled at my home in the burbs!) and I was excited to see the source! Elk Head is located in a small industrial park, similar to many breweries these days. But three things stood out – the all copper brewing equipment, the distinctly non-hipster clientele at the bar, and the welcoming owner-bartender Al pouring the taps. It was clear as soon as we walked in that this was the local pub; the group of beer drinkers at the bar had obviously just finished work and were there to drink a beer for happy hour – enjoying each other’s company, and giving me sideways looks that seemed to say, “Who’s this guy? He’s not from Buckley.” Most notably, these gentlemen had no handlebar mustaches and were not checking their beers into Untappd.

Elk Head Brewing in Buckley, WA

Once I ordered my beer – a jalapeño infused brown Ale called “Blast Zone” – I asked Al how long they had been open and how much they distribute. To my surprise he said they have been open for 14 years, and they primarily serve on site. I could ramble on about how I believe that Elk Head Brewing is the model (and the future) of the sustainability of the craft beer industry, but there are many more beers to discuss in this article.

As we walked out the door of Elk Head, I was again stunned by the vision of the mountains in the distance, and kept wondering how I could squeeze a trip in to visit the famous hop fields on the other side someday.

The Powerhouse in Puyallup, WA

Our next stop was in the town of Payallup, but before my lips touched any beer, I was required to learn how to pronounce the town name properly – “pew-all-up.” With that out of the way, we went to Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery. Operating in an old power station located next to the regional railroad, the brews were solid, especially the “More Power!” DIPA, with my favorite being the “Up Plum Kriek” sour ale.

Dystopian State, Tacoma, WA

After dinner, we visited Tacoma and a few of the breweries there. Dystopian State Brewing Company is located in a space that previously housed an old car dealership and overlooks Commencement Bay. With a large space for live music and a long bar, I enjoyed their “Everyone’s Crisis” cream Ale as well as their post-apocalyptic branding.

7 Seas Brewing, Tacoma, WA

The next stop was 7 Seas Brewing Company, a modern brewery in an old brewery space. 7 Seas brews in the building formerly occupied by historic brewery Heidelberg Brewing Company, which had its heyday in the mid 1900s. The large space still evokes impressions of a time when lager was king and the country needed lots of it! It holds a large tasting room offering 7 Seas’ year-round brews, seasonals, and a constantly rotating Tap Room Reserve Series. My favorite 7 Seas brew was their “Chinook Single Hop IPA,” but that should not come as a surprise to those who know me because of my affinity for Chinook hops! (Pro tip – I was corrected by the locals that the proper way to say “Chinook” is “shin” not “chin”).

Odd Otter, Tacoma, WA

Our last stop of the evening in Tacoma was Odd Otter Brewing. Prior to arriving, it was recommended to me to try their “Ottermelon Watermelon Ale,” but unfortunately it wasn’t available. Instead, I sampled their Brown Ale which was a very malty, enjoyable beer to drink as we laughed at the late night karaoke devolving in the back room.

Sometimes a massive cinnamon roll and coffee is just what you need to start another beer tour day!

The next day we made our way north from Tacoma into Seattle. Our first stop was in Seattle’s southern district of Georgetown at the aptly named “Georgetown Brewing Company.” Opened in 2002, Georgetown Brewing Company was the largest draft-only beer production company in the country until this summer. For 15 years Georgetown only sold kegs and growlers – according to our server in their large tasting room, Georgetown filled over 100,000 growlers in 2016.

Their flagship beer – “Manny’s Pale Ale” – can be found on many taps in Seattle; they sold over 50,000 barrels of “Manny’s” in 2016. In May of this year, they began canning Manny’s, so their “largest draft only” title is no longer applicable. In the tasting room, 7 or 8 samples are usually available from an extremely friendly and knowledgeable staff, and if you like one of the samples, you can purchase a prepoured growler of it.

Here’s something we don’t see in Pennsylvania!

After Georgetown, we made our way into downtown Seattle to experience Holy Mountain Brewing Company.

Holy Mountain Brewing – a great surprise!

Walking into the unassuming grey warehouse, I expected the interior to be a dark, industrial design with maybe some neon lights, like so many other warehouse breweries today. But similar to entering a shabby tent in the desert and finding it a luxurious palace, as I entered Holy Mountain Brewing, it took me a second to process what I was seeing. White subway tile on the walls was illuminated by significant amounts of sunlight, and high ceilings gave the impression that you had stepped into a beer oasis.

Having never heard of Holy Mountain before this trip, I was surprised again – the first beer on the draft list was “Satan is Real” pilsner, a collaboration with our own local brewery Tired Hands! After I tried the collaboration (and commented in irony, “Really? I come to Seattle and end up drinking a local Philly beer?”), my companions and I split a bottle of Holy Mountain’s “Volume 12” an amazing sour Ale brewed with black raspberries to celebrate the 12th anniversary of craft beer bar “Brouwer’s Cafe” in the Fremont section of Seattle.

The Cornelia Marie

Next, we continued traveling north to the Ballard section of town, and as we crossed the Ballard Bridge, there was another exciting moment – as I surveyed the massive crowd of fishing boats in the harbor and saw the ship the “Cornelia Marie” from Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” fame.

Reuben’s Brews

Once we arrived in Ballard, we visited Reuben’s Brews. I ordered a flight and took a seat at a picnic table in the warm spring sun. After trying a pilsner and a barrel aged breakfast stout, their “Mosaic Crush IPA” had the perfect aroma and flavor to earn its name. As much as I hate the phrase, it truly was “crushable” in the Seattle sunlight.

After Reuben’s Brews, we traveled to the Fremont district and took in the Fremont Troll, a giant troll statute under the Fremont Bridge and a must see if you go to Seattle.

Outlander Brewery & Pub

A Rainier at Woodskys!

While in Fremont, I made a brief visit to Outlander Brewing, which, similar to Forest & Main, operates in a renovated early 1900’s home. I enjoyed a quick brown ale, then made my way next door to “Woodsky’s” bar, where I had Seattle’s own “Rainier Pale Ale”, on the recommendation of a fantastic, handlebar mustache-sporting bartender who told me a great story about his visit to Philadelphia and tailgating before a Union game.

Populuxe Brewing in the Ballard section

My last stop of the trip was Populuxe Brewing, also in the Ballard section of town. At the time, Populuxe was operating out of their original nanobrewery space that consisted of a tap station in the front and a beer garden in the back. In September of 2017 they expanded their space and the main brewery is now located next door. Populuxe was one of the few breweries that I visited in Seattle that not only served a NE style IPA, but nailed it! In fact, one of my tour guides had never heard of the style before, but was so enamored with Populuxe’s version that she now seeks them out and emails me links to the tap releases! Populuxe’s “4th Anniversary IPA” had an amazing tropical fruit and citrus aroma and looked like pulpy grapefruit juice. It was excellent!

Mmmmmm, so good!

To enhance their beer, Populuxe features food trucks, and the one that was there during our visit served Mac and cheese with chorizo and Kim chi, as well as a “Vietnamese style” cheesesteak. All in all, Populuxe was a perfect last stop and is on my list to re-visit when I go back.

In the end, Seattle is known nationally for large brands like Red Hook, Ten Barrel and Elysian. But with a little bit of research – and some tips from locals – you’ll find some exquisite jewels of craft breweries.

Cheers!

The Brewholder
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